They say that before you go to the opera you should first get to know the music at home. That way when you hear the complicated and challenging vocal acrobatics at the performance you’ll recognize the music, get more out of the experience, and enjoy yourself all the more.

Well, fellow travelers, you have the opportunity to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime odyssey to one of the most diverse and unique botanical regions on the planet with me. The Cape Floristic Province boasts 9000 different vascular plant species. Namaqualand has 5000 including one third of all the succulent plants in the world. If you love plants and revere the natural world as much as I do, then these statistics should get you grinning with giddy excitement. Or terrify you with the shear immensity of it all! Either way it’s probably a good idea to take some advice from opera-goers and do a little studying beforehand.

Here is a list of books that are either already in my personal library or soon to be. I’ve just ordered some new ones from Amazon and Silver Hill Seeds in South Africa who stock an amazing selection of plant books on southern Africa.

The following regional wildflower guides cover most of the territory through which we’ll be travelling:

South Africa Wildflower Guide No. 1: Namaqualand, Le Roux, A., ISBN: 1874999309

South Africa Wildflower Guide No. 5: Stellenbosch to Hermanus, Bean, A. & A. Johns, ISBN: 1874999589

South Africa Wildflower Guide No. 7: West Coast, Manning, J. & P. Goldblatt, ISBN: 1874999112

South Africa Wildflower Guide No. 9: Nieuwoudtville, Bokkeveld & Hantam, Manning, J. & P. Goldblatt, ISBN: 1874999171

South Africa Wildflower Guide No. 12: Wild Flowers of the Table Mountain National Park, Trinder-Smith, T. et al., ISBN: 1874999600

Field Guide to the Flora of Grootbos Nature Reserve & the Walker Bay Region, Privett, S. & H. Lutzeyer, ISBN: 9780620478052

Here are some additional books worth considering for your library:

Fynbos: South Africa’s Unique Floral Kingdom, Cowling, R. & D. Richardson, ISBN: 1874950105

The Color Encyclopedia of Cape Bulbs, Manning, J. et al., ISBN: 0881925470

The Cape Floral Kingdom, Paterson-Jones, C., ISBN: 1853684813

Field Guide to Fynbos, Manning, J. & C. Paterson-Jones, ISBN: 1770072659

The Protea Family in Southern Africa, Paterson-Jones, C., ISBN: 1868723062

Happy reading! (Or I should say studying.) Just after you travel half way round the world and go through customs and immigration, I’ll be waiting for you with a test!

I kid. But still, pick up some of these books and marvel at everything we’re going to see on our tour called South Africa: Wildflowers and Fynbos.
South Africa: Wildflowers and Fynbos